Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac Movie Review

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Zodiac Movie Review

Zodiac is a 2007 thriller mystery film directed by David Fincher and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. It is a pretty good, if not great movie.

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I… I Need to know who he is. I… I need to stand there,

I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him

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Zodiac Movie Review

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This 70s manhunt for a notorious killer who left clues for the police remains an infamous, never unsolved case and it was always ripe for a movie. And this film proves that and it proves how Fincher was perfect for it as he imbued it with excellent atmosphere, reliably stellar direction and a very well crafted mystery.

So Zodiac is a good movie, sometimes even very good. But it’s not great and it’s far from the director’s best works owing to the one and one thing only which is of course its running time. Two hours and forty minutes was just too much for this story and the film felt very prolonged, it dragged at certain parts and some scenes were unnecessary or dull. This runtime affected the movie a lot unfortunately.

Jake Gyllenhaal is very good as usual in the lead role and it was interesting seeing Marvel’s Ruffalo and Downey both here. The actors did a really good job in their roles and the characters are pretty solid, but they aren’t as great as the script and prolonged runtime demanded.

Now Zodiac is a truly terrifying movie. It doesn’t have enough action scenes, especially in the second half, but the first one featured a couple of truly horrific scenes and actually all of the killings we witnessed were so scary and creepy in how they were filmed and how we never see the killer. Such great choices.

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Zodiac Movie Review

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The cinematography is also pretty stellar. I usually dislike grim looking movies, but here I actually loved it because it complements the story and it sets the mood perfectly. It recreated the 70s decade so well with a great attention to detail, but the score, great atmosphere and especially superb cinematography sold those crucial creepy scenes. The mystery itself also provided a couple of terrific scenes, great twists and turns and I enjoyed its ambiguous ending and how faithfully they recreated this whole case.

Zodiac features good performances from its talented cast, reliably strong direction from Fincher, superb cinematography, a good mystery and a couple of truly terrifying murder sequences, but it needed more action in my opinion and it was ultimately undone by its needlessly prolonged running time. It’s a good film, but far from the director’s greatest works.

My Rating – 4

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The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man Movie Review

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The Thin Man Movie Review

The Thin Man is a 1934 mystery screwball comedy film directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. It is one of the very best films of this year.

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Waiter, will you serve the nuts?

I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?

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The Thin Man Movie Review

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The Thin Man is basically a mystery film with strong screwball comedy sensibilities and I liked that mix of genres as it was quite authentic and different. It led to a very singular and memorable film experience. But I still wanted more comedy elements as the mystery part was a bit too overwhelming to me and the first act is rather slow and uninvolving.

But the film later becomes much more entertaining, especially when Nick and Nora enter the picture. They are such wonderful characters and I loved the portrayal of a spousal detective team as that led to many great laughs and such a fun dynamic.

Myrna Loy and William Powell are just fantastic here as is expected of their caliber. Powell here proved how versatile he was as Nick is much different than Godfrey from ‘My Man Godfrey’. He talks much more and is a big drinker. He excelled in this role as his timing is great, he got a bunch of great lines and he was consistently funny.

But Loy should not be forgotten as well as her performance is just as great and just as essential to this movie. Her various frowns and funny facial expressions made my day and I just loved some of her hilarious lines. The two bickering and playing around was just a lovely and funny sight to behold and they’ve got some great chemistry and it is easy to see why this series got five more movies after this one.

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The Thin Man Movie Review

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I also loved Skippy as Asta who is their wire-haired fox terrier. The little guy did such a great job and he was very well trained and he is the third most important character here. He even stole the show from the married folks in some scenes. The highlights are him helping Nick solve the show, hiding from the intruder and of course the ending with him protecting the view with his paws while the two have sex is just one of the great endings in comedies, simply brilliant.

As for the other highlights, I loved Nick punching Nora, very smart and memorable. And of course the car scene is hilarious. There are some really hilarious lines to be had here owing to superb, brisk and very smart dialogue which should be followed carefully in order to be understood entirely.

The Thin Man definitely has a weaker mystery. It is good, but not great and is too complicated and should be watched more than once in order to be understood properly. The first act is definitely not my favorite and even though the ending is highly memorable and I liked how the crime was resolved, there are too many characters here in this puzzle and not all are memorable.

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The Thin Man Movie Review

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But it is very well filmed and directed and the pacing is mostly quite good with only some scenes being rushed, but others are excellent and I loved those montages and quick cuts as they brought a sense of urgency to the picture. The film is one of the rare great ones from 1934 which was a very weak movie year and it deserved its four Oscar nods, but Myrna Loy should have definitely been nominated too.

The Thin Man has a less involving first act and sometimes the mystery part was overwhelming, but it was still pretty well written and well resolved. The screwball comedy part is where the movie shines with a superb brisk dialogue and many unforgettable scenes such as the car scene, the punch scene and the brilliant ending. William Powell and Myrna Loy are such a fantastic duo and their infectious dynamic and many hilarious lines made this movie along with Skippy the fox terrier who stole the show himself with a couple of funny and instantly recognizable hijinks.

My Rating – 4.5

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Spellbound (1945)

Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Spellbound Movie Review

Spellbound is a 1945 noir mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. It is a pretty good, interesting Hitchcock experiment.

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Women make the best psychoanalysts until they fall in love.

After that they make the best patients

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Now I have read that Hitchcock himself dissed the movie decades later and truly the film isn’t a favorite nowadays. But I disagree with that notion. It is certainly far from his best works and it isn’t a great film, but it is still a pretty good film which is pretty on par with most of his other 40s efforts.

The movie is criticized for being dated, but to me the film is pleasantly old-fashioned in its approach and I loved personally the emphasis on traditional mystery and a strong reliance on psychology. Whether or not the film is scientifically accurate is a non-issue as movies, especially thrillers, aren’t supposed to be scientifically correct. I personally really liked the theme of psychoanalysis here and it was very well explored and even fascinating to hear about.

The film is a bit too cozy and less ambitious and dangerous than his usual fare, but that meant that it was original and different. The mystery is so well established and I loved the path to untangling it. It is a well written, mysterious and atmospheric film that works great as a noir mystery with some good thriller elements.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

There are three highlights here. One is the dream sequence done by Salvador Dali. That was of course authentic and unforgettable visually. Another is of course the childhood flashback which is beautiful and such a great, important moment. And the third is that ending with the gunshot being fired at the audience being very inventive.

Gregory Peck is very good in Spellbound, but Ingrid Bergman is the standout here. She gave such a strong, subtle performance and she should have been nominated for her work here. She plays such a strong female character who is a doctor and who eventually saves her man. That is why the film is not sexist as some remarked, but rather opposite than that and modern.

Spellbound has some evident problems. One is the pacing which is at times slow. The entire first half should have been trimmed down a bit and some scenes are too slow and even dull. I also didn’t quite follow the murder storyline quite as well as the childhood drama one. It was a bit too convoluted.

But other than that, it is a very good film. One of the character highlights is Alex Brulov played so well by Michael Chekhov. His somewhat sexist and full of himself character was a lot of fun and he made me laugh a couple of times.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

The film features very strong dialogue. Some of it wasn’t as great, but most of the conversations and discussions were very interesting and even fascinating in subject. The film has such an interesting psychological, dreamlike quality to it emphasized by gorgeous cinematography and many excellent shots and beautifully constructed sequences. Hitch’s direction is very strong here. The film isn’t as good as ‘Lifeboat’ or ‘Shadow of a Doubt‘, but it is better than overrated ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and it is a very underrated 40s effort from the director.

Spellbound is sometimes too convoluted and it drags in some scenes, but it is mostly a very intriguing, different kind of noir mystery with a strong emphasis on psychology. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman are an excellent pair here with her in particular delivering a very strong performance. The film is intriguingly dreamlike in quality fueled by gorgeous cinematography and a couple of unforgettable sequences such as the gunshot ending, the childhood flashback and a weird dream scene done by Salvador Dali. It is a pretty underrated Hitchcock film.

My Rating – 4

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Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Rebecca Movie Review

Rebecca is a 1940 mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson. It is such an authentic mystery.

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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Now of course Rebecca is an accomplished movie on many grounds, but I’ve had an interesting history with it. When I watched it for the first time, I thought it was just solid. Upon second viewing, I thought it was really good and now, upon my third viewing, I really changed my mind and now I think it is a great film by all means. It really grew on me and I have always respected the films that become better and better every time you see it and this is a great example of that phenomenon.

Rebecca is above all else a great story. It follows a young woman who becomes the second wife of an aristocrat and comes to live in his mansion. But she can’t escape the ghost of his previous, deceased wife whom the servants absolutely adored. It is a testament to Hitchcock’s ingenuity that we never see Rebecca in the film and yet we feel like we met her as she is always present in the conversations between the characters. That created such a weird, even creepy feel to the movie.

I really liked both of the main characters and their relationship is strongly developed. Favell is another strong, sneaky character played wonderfully by typically cold and malicious George Sanders. He was perfectly cast for this role and he delivered in spades. But of course Mrs. Danvers is the true standout character and she is one of Hitchcock’s most menacing and unforgettable villains. Some of her scenes were extremely creepy and atmospheric and I loved that her fascination with Rebecca drove her every move.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Judith Anderson is suitably theatrical in the role and this is the best type of theatrical performance, the one that fits and lifts the role. She gave such an outstanding performance that should have brought her a supporting Oscar. Laurence Olivier is quite good, but Joan Fontaine deserved her Oscar nomination and she maybe even should have won. Despite a couple of overly emphasized moments, she mostly excelled in a difficult main role. The acting in this movie is truly top-notch.

Rebecca succeeds as a gothic tale in spades. It is actually one of the finest mystery films that I have ever seen as it is just always riveting to watch and wonderfully atmospheric. The plot unfolded in a really well crafted and structured manner and all of the twists and turns were satisfying and clever.

I have rarely seen a better looking movie than this one. The cinematography is excellent and some of the imagery here is just unforgettable and I will remember some scenes for years to come. But the art direction is just stunning as the house Manderley is absolutely magnificent to behold with its gothic look and we explore many of its parts leading to it becoming a character in its own right. The score is also fantastic and of course the direction from Hitchcock is brilliant.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Let’s talk about some of Rebecca’s flaws. Now I still stand by my original assessment that this is not one of Hitchcock’s best films. It is on the list, but certainly not in the top five. And it did not deserve to win Best Picture in an especially strong year for film, ridiculously strong actually. In many other years, yes, but here it was undeserved.

The pacing in particular is troublesome. It takes its time to get there owing to a slow start and some of the scenes were a bit too long in my opinion. The third act of the film I really liked, but it still felt like a different movie with its courtroom drama elements and I can’t help but wonder what this movie would have turned out had the story remained the same as it was in the first half. I definitely liked the conclusion and the ending is particularly striking, but it did have a bit too many twists in it and the final twist, although good, is a bit too convenient.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

But it is mostly a very good, respectable film that is even artistic in its look and very original and memorable in its story. It is one of the most successful gothic mysteries ever put on screen. It was nominated for eleven Oscars but only won two and the cinematography win is much deserved. But production design as well as both of the actresses should have also won in my opinion.

Rebecca isn’t well paced, but it is such a strong mystery that is one of the finest ever put on screen. It isn’t one of Hitchcock’s best, but it comes close with top-notch performances, an unforgettable and creepy villain in Mrs. Danvers, very involving and well crafted plot and many memorable scenes that stay with you. It is also one of the finest looking black and white films thanks to some brilliant imagery, an even artistic look to it and amazing production design. Atmospheric and authentic, it is a thoroughly delightful gothic mystery.

My Rating – 4.5

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Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Picnic at Hanging Rock Review………………………………………………………………..

Picnic at Hanging Rock Movie Review

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Australian mystery film directed by Peter Weir. It is an authentic, but ultimately disappointing movie.

It follows the fictitious disappearance of several schoolgirls and their teacher during a picnic at Hanging Rock in 1900. First I have to say that I found both its premise and setting very authentic and quite fascinating. But the execution is unfortunately weak and it ruined what could have been a special movie. It was just way too slow paced, dull and frankly at times pretentious to be enjoyed more.

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What we see and what we seem are but a dream,

a dream within a dream

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Picnic at Hanging Rock Review………………………………………………………………..

The characters were particularly uninspired and although well acted by its cast, I found none of them to be remotely interesting or memorable. The direction from Peter Weir is good, but the pacing is off. The movie isn’t long, but it is boring which is a thing that bothered me the most about it. Its slow pacing and some very long, dull takes definitely led to that feeling.

Picnic at Hanging Rock shines in the technical aspects. The cinematography is absolutely terrific and I loved both the camera movements greatly employed here and its scenery. The scenery is gorgeous and watching this eponymous setting being brought to life was fascinating. Both the setting and the time period are quite interesting. And the score is really good and very atmospheric. The entire movie definitely has an ominous, very mysterious quality to it which is why it somewhat succeeds as a solid mystery film. It’s just the execution of its plot and characters that ruined it for me.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock Review………………………………………………………………..

The movie starts really well, but its second and third act disappointed me as it was just not that involving. There were much better ways to tell this story and the filmmakers unfortunately decided to tell it in a rather ordinary, only at certain times inspired, manner. The emotion is lacking and the film is rather cold. In the end, Picnic at Hanging Rock was an immensely disappointing experience for me as I expected great things about it based on its premise and status, but I was just terribly let down.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the most disappointing movies I’ve seen recently. The setting is very intriguing, the cinematography is superb as is its score and it is mysterious and atmospheric, but the characters are so uninspired, the story isn’t particularly well told and the pacing is very slow leading to a dull, somewhat pretentious and ultimately immensely disappointing film.

My Rating – 3

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Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Mulholland Drive Movie Review

Mulholland Drive is a 2001 mystery thriller film directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. It is such a mediocre, extremely overrated movie.

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When you see the girl in the picture that was shown to you earlier today, you will say, “this is the girl”.

The rest of the cast can stay, that’s up to you. But the choice for that lead girl is NOT up to you.

Now… you will see me one more time, if you do good.

You will see me… two more times, if you do bad. Good night

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Mulholland Drive Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

The plot of Mulholland Drive is non-existent and therefore I won’t go into it thoroughly. This is one of those movies that have very difficult to understand narrative, but that narrative is either pointless or frankly annoying and that ‘artsy, cool’ presentation of it is just a facade. The movie may fool some, but it never fooled me as I found it pointless and stupid from the get-go.

The characters are so underdeveloped and basically non-entities. Rita is typical and Betty is so inherently problematic. I get that she is naive and a warm person and although she is an archetype from a different time, those women exist and portraying them isn’t a problem. But what is a problem here is how she is stupid when it comes to Rita and I never really understood why she would help her, let alone get entangled in all the crap that goes with her. And the rest of the characters are all not worth talking about as they are totally unimportant.

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Mulholland Drive Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

The thing that infuriated me most in Mulholland Drive has to be its lesbian relationship. I found the two falling in love with each other totally ridiculous and never real. I found it to be a product of previous eras, mainly the 80s and 90s, where the director lets one of his fantasies unfold on screen and we get the fantasy and fetish instead of an actual loving relationship. That is so frustrating to me and a big reason why this movie feels dated, even for its time.

I never found its noir elements particularly present to call it a neo-noir film. This is basically a mystery and even more so a thriller, a very annoying psychological, erotic thriller. But I have to admit that as a mystery, it works, at least to some degree. Some of the elements and scenes here were so memorable and very intriguing. The first half has that wonderful, otherworldly mysterious quality to it which is why I found its second half to be unfortunate. Whereas the first half is conventional, well made and even involving, the second one abandons any plot structure, meaning or point and it becomes a giant, overly artistic, incomprehensible and ultimately mediocre mess.

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Mulholland Drive Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Naomi Watts gave a solid performance in an unflattering role and the others did a good job as well. But the characters are so poorly written that the actors are wasted. The tone is pleasantly mysterious at first until deciding to go into a needlessly trippy territory. The movie is original, but mostly in a bad way. And I wouldn’t call its running time excessive as there is a lot going on here to justify it, but the second half is so infuriating and uninvolving that I found it dull nonetheless. Needless to say, this is far from the director’s best works and it is one of the most overrated films of the 21st century.

Mulholland Drive has some intriguing sequences and the first half is pleasantly mysterious, but the second half is so pointless and stupid and the movie is mostly a mediocre effort from the director with such an infuriating and dated ‘artistic’ approach to it, poor characters and a very annoying outcome. It is one of the most overrated films of the decade.

My Rating – 2.5

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Murder! (1930)

Murder! Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Murder! Movie Review

Murder! is a 1930 mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Herbert Marshall. It is one of the director’s weakest films.

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I assure you, Inspector,

I’m not the other woman in this case

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A young actress is murdered and the woman found there is found guilty. However, one juror doesn’t believe that and he starts to investigate who is the actual murderer. Let me first say that this plot is definitely not bad, in fact it is quite solid. But it is also quite basic and its execution is particularly troublesome. The movie is just so tedious and slow that I just wasn’t invested in it. Also, this is a detective mystery and although I have nothing against that genre, I feel that Hitchcock is much more suited for thriller and it shows here in this lackluster film.

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Murder! Movie Review

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Diana is a typical character, but John Menier is quite good as our protagonist. As for Fane, he is such a troublesome villain. The portrayal of a mixed-race homosexual trapeze artist may have been risqué back then, but now it is quite offensive and very dated. His character is definitely the worst aspect in the movie.

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Murder! Movie Review

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Murder! is very well acted with Herbert Marshall expectedly being the highlight. He is always such a good actor and he showed that here as well with a very good performance. The directing from Hitchcock is problematic. It is solid, but never as great as you would come to expect from the master of suspense. Yes, some scenes are definitely Hitchcockian such as that intense and memorable ending, but this flick is mostly devoid of his usual flair and style which is one of the things that bothered me most.

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Murder! Movie Review

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Murder! is also never particularly original or unique in its plot which is too basic and just serviceable. But it does have good cinematography as it is well filmed and some scenes do have some interesting shots that are quite memorable. But the tone is all over the place. The tone here is very odd for a Hitchcock film, uncharacteristically and annoyingly so. It is certainly comedic and even too comedic for my taste as it wasn’t funny, but was definitely meant to be lightweight and funny. It had that very odd feel to it that really took me by surprise and I honestly didn’t like it at all. Quite on the contrary, I found it to be frustrating and very disappointing as the more serious approach would have led to a better film.

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Murder! Movie Review

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The courtroom drama elements are solid, but there aren’t enough of them here. The score isn’t there and the sound quality was quite weak. But the dialogue is definitely solid and the main character in particular is fine to follow and likable. The editing is okay and the running time is short, but the movie was still boring to me, especially its first half which really felt slow and uneventful. As for the second half, it is definitely an improvement as it had a more serious, intense approach to it and was much more entertaining and memorable. Overall, Murder! is a very disappointing, frustrating experience and one of the weakest and most flawed films from the director without any doubt and such a giant step back from ‘Blackmail‘ and ‘The Lodger‘.

Murder! is a very disappointing and weak movie that has a solid plot, a good turn from Herbert Marshall and a memorable ending, but the tone is very comedic and odd, there aren’t enough trademark directorial touches here, the film is quite dated and offensive in its villain character and it is just never really exciting or engaging. It is definitely one of the weakest films from Hitchcock.

My Rating – 3

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Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Zootopia Movie Review

Zootopia is a 2016 animated adventure comedy that is the 55th feature in the Disney canon. It is such an excellent, stupendous movie that is Disney’s best one in years.

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Life’s a little bit messy.

We all make mistakes.

No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you

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I will talk about its themes later on in depth, but now let’s talk about the overall plot. I really liked its storytelling as it does have such a clever, really terrific script and that is to be admired as it is a rarity these days. The film was not only incredibly entertaining, but it also contained a lot of heart and charm which are the essential ingredients for a classic Disney feature. In terms of the genres, it is a mix of comedy, adventure and mystery, but definitely is a buddy cop comedy above everything else. Confession time – I dislike that genre and I always have. However, it is a strong case for this movie’s greatness that I still loved it regardless of that. Yes, some of those genre tropes bothered me at times, but this was mostly such a greatly conveyed storyline, so well crafted and detailed, that I really enjoyed it. And it is refreshing as it’s the first buddy cop comedy for Disney.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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The character development in Zootopia is particularly strong as each and every character is not only well realized, but also memorable and both main and supporting characters are well utilized. Judy Hopps is excellent. She seemed a bit annoying to me at first, but she grew on me later on and I really liked her goal and her personality quite a bit. It was great that she was a strong female character, but she still had those girly, feminine qualities in her and I loved that mix. Nick Wilde is awesome, the only problem with him is that he isn’t in the movie as much as he should have been as he is really phenomenal. He is a classic Disney character and although his personality did seem familiar at first, I really loved him in the end as he is so funny and so likable. And of course the relationship between the two is naturally the standout aspect of the entire movie as it is so moving, so wonderful and just a lot of fun.

Chief Bogo is very good and sometimes even funny which I did not expect. Bellwether isn’t as strong and the twist with her, although clever as is everything in this movie, was still somewhat typical as Disney is really starting to annoy me with their new obsession with twists in the third act. The parents of Judy were quite typical for this kind of film, but some of their lines were hilarious nonetheless. Yax is amusing, Lionheart is solid, Duke Weaselton is absolutely hilarious and of course Mr. Big is the highlight with such a great gangster parody and absolutely hysterical lines.

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Zootopia

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Now is the good time to talk about the themes. Yes, Zootopia is a very sophisticated Disney movie and I would even call it a political film as it really does have too strong political overtones. And although at first it seemed too on-the-nose with the remarks about bunnies not being suited for cops being so obvious, those overtones became much more subtle and much smarter as the movie progressed. I actually admired some of the parallels here. For example, only a bunny can tell another bunny that she is cute is obviously analogous to the word nigger. And probably the smartest and just most brilliant analogy was the one with the theme of predators only being able to go savage as that is so obviously a remark on Muslim people and terrorists. I was blown away by how sophisticated and perfectly disguised and incorporated into the storyline were those analogies and that definitely led to this being one of the smartest and most mature Disney films ever made. Zootopia is not only a plea for tolerance, but also a fantastic exploration of stereotypes and the way different races cooperate in today’s world leading to a bit too convenient, but still incredibly timely and relevant movie.

The animation is gorgeous. I loved it. Zootopia has such lush colors and such gorgeous visuals that I was blown away by it. I would even go so far as to call it groundbreaking in terms of its animation as it does look incredibly advanced and revolutionary not only in its details, but also in its colors and realism. The character design is just spectacular and so Disney. It is a perfect mix of classic and modern and the entire movie is like that as well. Fur, faces, clothes, interiors, nature, the overall city, everything looked splendid here and it is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Literally every frame is pause worthy how good it looks. The only problem here is that the film isn’t particularly artistic, but it is still such a stunning looking film that is definitely going to set a new standard for computer animation.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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Let’s talk about some of the problems here as the movie is so far from perfect. One of the major ones is definitely its beginning. Boy, did it start on a lackluster note. That beginning was so clichéd with a clichéd backstory and such a forced dialogue that I really started to fear about the entire film. Thankfully, it became much more clever as it progressed and much less clichéd, but that opening still remains a big problem. Also, the film is too convenient at times and almost too political and it definitely takes its time to get there not only in terms of emotion, but also in terms of the relationship between Hopps and Nick as it was slowly built. And I also wasn’t such a big fan of its ending. Zootopia is such a weird Disney movie that is quite the opposite from most of the studio’s films that really star and end well, but this one has a weaker ending and a weaker beginning, but with the middle parts being the highlights.

Speaking of highlights, the humor is one of them. This flick is so funny and frequently hilarious. I laughed out loud many times with most of the supporting characters being comedic gold. Mr. Big is awesome, but what they did with Duke Weaselton was just something special. That sequence is one of the best ones here as it had the releases both new and not released yet from Disney and that was just so funny and so perfect for Disney fans like me who know everything about this. Another highlight is Nick’s flashback. Whereas Judy’s backstory was clichéd, this one is much better and much more emotional. And some other highlights are its mystery elements. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a neo-noir, but it surely has a strong mystery in it and some fantastic atmospheric thrills.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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The score is mostly really good, if not that memorable. The only song here is Try Everything from Shakira and I really enjoyed it as it was catchy and fun. The imagery and cinematography is splendid, but what takes the cake as being the most intriguing is definitely the movie’s world building. Wow, it was fabulous! Everything here is so meticulously constructed and the city of Zootopia is not only vivid and detailed, but also seems real. I felt as if I was literally there and that is a testament to some strong world building and animation. The dialogue is clever, the direction is strong, the pacing is really excellent and the film’s running time is perfect as is its tone. The script is its major asset along with the characters, humor and animation and having in mind that those are the essential ingredients for a great Disney flick, this surely is one. I wouldn’t call it one of the best Disney films ever as it is pretty flawed, but it is certainly the finest Disney animated movie since 2012’s ‘Wreck-It-Ralph‘. And I just loved how authentic it is, but also classic, that mix was great as it was great to see a Disney movie with anthropomorphic animals as they haven’t made one for a long time.

Zootopia is another strong proof that we are living in the Second Disney Renaissance. This movie is just phenomenal with a great mix of classic and contemporary with a perfect mix of genres, absolutely stellar script and terrific character development with many memorable and likable characters. Yes, its beginning is clichéd and the film was too convenient and too on-the-nose at times, but its analogies are for the most part brilliant and so clever as it is such a perfect exploration of stereotypes and the relationships between people of different races in today’s world. But Zootopia doesn’t forget to have a heart and it has emotion in spades, but it also has absolutely gorgeous, even groundbreaking animation, such an entertaining and well crafted storyline, absolutely amazing, admirable world building and superb character interactions. It is a great cinematic achievement and Disney’s finest effort in years.

My Rating – 4

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The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

The Great Mouse Detective Review

The Great Mouse Detective Movie Review

The Great Mouse Detective is a 1986 animated mystery comedy film directed by Ron Clements and with the voice work of Vincent Price. It is the 26th Walt Disney animated feature and such a solid, often overlooked movie.

It follows a mouse detective who along with his friend doctor must chase a villainous rat and rescue the father of a little girl. The plot itself is both the film’s weakness and strength. Let me explain. It is good because it is very mysterious and adventurous, filled with excellent set design and a great use of various locations. It is also very engaging and really charming. However, it is derivative and there lies its problem. It is basically a Sherlock Holmes movie, albeit a family-friendly version with mice. And though it can be considered to be a wonderful homage, it is still too much influenced by it with the characters themselves basically being the same. I would have liked to have seen at least some change in its storytelling, but it unfortunately remained the same which is very lazy from the screenwriters.

The Great Mouse Detective’s character development is one of its strongest suits. Yes, these characters are basically Sherlock Holmes characters, but they are still very charming and endearing with the new ones being very good as well. Basil is excellent as this cocky detective that is seemingly cold, but with his heart still in the right place. As for Dawson, he’s also pretty good. I expected more from him, but he’s mostly well utilized and the relationship between the two is the highlight. Olivia Flaversham is a likable, but forgettable child character.

Professor Ratigan is such a terrific villain! He is one of the most underrated and easily one of the better villains in the Disney canon as he is so good. Vincent Price did a great job in this voice role, but the character itself is really well written and he is such a wonderfully theatrical, yet menacing villain that posed real threat to our protagonists. He is easily the finest and most memorable character in the entire film. Toby is somewhat annoying as a dog stereotype ruled by mice which was weird, but Fidget was pretty good as a henchman and I liked Felicia’s presence quite a bit. And the Queen was also solid.

The animation is quite good here. It isn’t particularly inspired or memorable with the character designs being mostly typical, but Ratigan is exquisitely animated and his transformation near the end is phenomenally done. That whole ending benefits from some excellent use of CGI and the clockwork scene is gorgeous to look at. The film is also meticulously detailed with some great interiors. The animation is quite solid, but admittedly forgettable.

The soundtrack is pretty good and underappreciated. Goodbye, So Soon is solid and accompanies that iconic intense sequence really well. Let Me Be Good To You is also quite good and so catchy and fun. It also accompanies a memorable and really entertaining and well executed scene. The songs are really put in some great scenes here which is great. And of course the standout song is The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind. I just love this song as it is not only incredibly catchy and well executed, but also because it perfectly showcases its villain and presents his personality and goal in the quickest way possible. And it is just so damn entertaining. The songs are really good here, there are just three of them, but all three are quite good. As for the score, it is also pretty good with some quite memorable moments here and there.

The Great Mouse Detective is an incredibly effervescent and likable movie that isn’t the most ambitious excursion, but is so much fun and has a lot of charm. The highlights for me, apart from those songs and their scenes, are the opening scene and the ending. The opening is so intense and very mature. It is very atmospheric and it sets up this story perfectly, ending in some really good, fittingly retro title score. The ending is so heartwarming. When Basil says goodbye to Olivia, that moment is touching. But the entire finale with the doctor staying and becoming his personal assistant is such a great conclusion to this story, the one that emphasizes their friendship and partnership perfectly. The clockwork scene is also very well executed and even intense.

Yes, this film has some pretty good action sequences. The plot itself is forgettable and unfortunately the entire movie is like that which is its biggest problem, but the action is really well done and always fun to watch. The pacing is also pretty good and although leisurely, I liked that about it as it fits the mood of the story. It is well scored and solidly animated, but the directing could have been better and the film could have used more ambition and more interesting and unique plot points to it.  The humor is solid, but there aren’t that many funny moments here. The imagery is great with some locations being really memorable and detailed. The dialogue is also quite solid and it has some fine lines in it. The film is somewhat clever, but typical and could have used more energy and originality in its execution. But it admittedly has a big heart with some scenes being incredibly heartwarming. And it is also very charming. The Great Mouse Detective isn’t one of the more memorable Disney flicks, but it is still quite solid and certainly one of the better 80s efforts from Disney. It isn’t on the level of ‘The Fox and the Hound‘ of course, but it is better than ‘The Black Cauldron‘ and it is certainly superior to ‘Oliver & Company’.

The Great Mouse Detective is admittedly too familiar and lazy in its storytelling and the film is somewhat forgettable among the Disney flicks, but it is still a solid little film filled with some great characters with the villain being superb, excellent score, some good songs, a great charming tone to it and well executed action sequences. It is forgettable, but endearing and charming and having some great scenes here and there.

My Rating – 4

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Mr. Holmes (2015)

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes Movie Review

Mr. Holmes is a 2015 drama mystery film directed by Bill Condon and starring Ian McKellen. It is quite a good movie and such a pleasant surprise.

Holmes is now 93 and he tries to recall the details of his final case. This film is very interesting and such an unusual Sherlock Holmes flick. It focuses more on drama instead of detective mystery and I absolutely loved that as it led to such great character development and an emotionally engaging approach.

But that formula does have its flaws and that is its mystery. The whole Japanese subplot is lacking when compared to the bee one because the mystery is just never as interesting or as involving as it should have been. It does have some fine moments here and there and its details led to that beautiful ending, but this is still the weaker subplot here and the film’s biggest detractor.

But that second subplot is just wonderful. I loved the characters in particular. The mother was too vilified at first, but she thankfully got better treatment as the story progressed. Roger is so good as this incredibly smart British kid and Holmes is fantastic here. The film is the best when it deals with his problems from mind deterioration and aging to his last case to the things that he regrets. There are so many scenes in Mr. Holmes that are just so heartwarming and the highlights are the scenes with Roger, the dialogue he has with the mother near the end and of course that tender finale. He is such a complex, fascinating character and the best reason to see the film.

But the relationship between Roger and Holmes is so endearing and their scenes also have such a wonderful and charming humor to them as well. I just loved that relationship and it is the heart of the film. The acting is great as both Laura Linney and Milo Parker did such a good job and of course Ian McKellen is terrific in his role. He not only delivered in those more dramatic and emotional scenes, but he was also perfectly cast as he suits this role so well.

Mr. Holmes is leisurely paced and although that was problematic, especially in the first half, the film is still never boring as it plays as a character-driven, warm drama that I love. The dialogue is really good and the tone is great as it wonderfully shifts from dramatic to comedic. The score is also solid and of course the film is visually magnificent with such wonderful natural scenery and some great interiors as well. It is always beautiful to watch and it is so well shot. The first act is never as good as the other two, but that third act is just perfect as it ends both of its subplots in such a satisfying manner. In the end, Mr. Holmes is such a good movie that caught me by surprise as I never expected it would be this good, this heartwarming and this charming. It has such an immense charm and coziness factor to it that it is a perfect film for Sherlock Holmes fans and also for those who aren’t ones as well.

Its Japanese subplot is lacking in comparison to the bee one, but Mr. Holmes benefits from such a unique approach with a larger focus on character-driven drama instead of detective mystery and I loved that about as it led to such good character development, terrific character interactions, some heartwarming scenes and a moving ending. It is also a beautiful to look at and charming movie and overall such a pleasant surprise.

My Rating – 4

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